The Boston Celtics are the fifth-youngest team in the NBA.
So when they suffer an inexplicable loss, like Sunday’s 111-101 defeat at Brooklyn, locking in on their inexperience in being heavy favorites is an easy path to take.
But unraveling what was at the core of this loss isn’t that simple.
Yes, Boston’s lack of experience in what to expect coming off a blowout win, to face the same team less than 48 hours nonetheless, certainly was a contributing factor to Sunday’s outcome.
But more than anything else, Brooklyn wanted this game more than the Celtics did.
They crashed the boards harder, paid closer attention to detail, made all the tough, gritty plays at both ends of the floor when they absolutely had to.
And while the Celtics had their moments, the Nets had this game exactly where they wanted it to be most of the night.
“They played harder than us. They definitely deserved to win,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who shared game-high scoring honors (27 points) with teammate Avery Bradley. “We can’t have those type of things happen anymore.”
Thomas added, “It’s the NBA. Any team can beat any team on any given night. You have to be locked in and ready for everything. And we were not ready for them, for whatever reason, in the first half.”
In the second half, Boston looked and played more like the Celtics we have seen most of this season.
“But we dug a big enough hole (in the first half) where it was tough climbing out of it,” said Boston’s Jared Sullinger.
And that has a lot to do with focus and effort, elements of the game that more often than not can trump experience.
Still, there is something to be made of the fact that this Celtics team and all their bountiful youth, remains a work in progress with a lot to learn about not just winning, but doing it with consistency.
The last two games against Brooklyn serve as examples of what can happen when you play at the top of your game and follow it up on a night when your guard was down for long stretches.
“As a young team, you think somebody is going to roll over and (let you do) exactly what you did on Friday night,” Sullinger said. “But obviously they came back, they made adjustments to our defense and we didn’t make the proper adjustments until the second half. You live and learn.”